Loowatt, a cleverly named company from the UK, is testing a revolutionary waterless toilet system that could help create vibrant local economies around waste treatment.
The toilet uses a unique sealing mechanism to package feces and urine into an odorless cartridge, within a biodegradable lining material. The cartridge is emptied once or twice weekly into an anaerobic digester. The digester converts human waste into natural gas and fertilizer, valuable commodities which can be sold and reinvested in the community.
Once collected into the digester, which is devoid of oxygen, microorganisms are used to break down the waste and convert it into methane and carbon dioxide gas. That gas can then be burned for fuel, at which point it reverts back to CO2 and water vapor.
Previous attempts at harvesting human waste for power generation have all been directed at the end of the cycle, aka after the waste has been flushed, but the Loowatt system collects waste directly from the toilet, eliminating the need for water or chemicals.
Quick to set up and simple to service and operate, the Loowatt system creates a locally closed loop around human waste management, and becomes a local source of biogas for cooking, electricity, and other applications.
Loowatt was recently awarded a $100,000 Grand Challenges Explorations grant from the The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, to develop the technology further.
Article by Beth Buczynski, appearing courtesy Crisp Green.